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Thursday, March 2, 2006
Alito’s Letter to Dobson
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:09 am

Much will, no doubt, be made of Alito’s letter to Dobson, especially since it contains overtly Christian references and language in it.

The real question, however, is how common such letters are from those who sit on the bench to those who do not.

Here’s the info, along with the text, via the Raw Story: Alito thanks Christian right leader for supporting nomination; Says he will ‘keep in mind’ trust on court

Filed under: Courts/the Judiciary, Religion | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Sunday, February 19, 2006
And it Continues…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:58 pm

Via the AP: Muslims Assault U.S. Embassy in Indonesia

Filed under: Global Politics, Religion | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
You Don’t Say
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 1:53 pm

Via the AP: Pat Robertson Accused of Damaging Movement

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Saturday, February 18, 2006
Update: Make it Ten
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:33 am

Via the BBC: Ten die in Libya cartoon clash

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Friday, February 17, 2006
How Many Will Die Over Outrage Over Cartoons?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 5:00 pm

Via the BBC: ‘Nine die’ in Libya cartoon clash

At least nine people are reported to have been killed and several injured in Libya in clashes during a protest outside an Italian consulate.

What an utter waste.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:17 am

Via the AP: Cleric: $1 Million to Kill Cartoonist

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Cartoon Madness Continues
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:43 am

Via the BBC: More die in Pakistan cartoon fury

Two deaths were in the city of Peshawar where targets not connected to the cartoon row, including a KFC outlet and local businesses were attacked.


In other developments:

* Hundreds of Muslims burn Danish flags outside the Danish consulate in the Philippines capital, Manila
* Indonesia’s trade association says it will boycott Danish goods as a mark of protest
* Malaysia shuts down a Chinese-language newspaper for two weeks for publishing a photograph that contained one of the cartoons

There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to these reactions.

Filed under: Global Politics, Religion | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Religion, Critical Thinking and The Beginning
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:17 pm

I am a religious person. Indeed, by most standards I would be considered quite conservative, religiously speaking (although that, in and of itself, is a whole other conversation).

However, things like this are utterly appalling to me. That they aren’t appalling to more of my coreligionists is also, well, appalling.

First off: I have never fully understood why divergent views on the origins of the universe get so many people in an snit. Is the message of Jesus Christ, or the central tenets of the Christian faith vitiated if a certain version of the origins of the earth and the human species turn out to be accurate, even if they aren’t recounted verbatim in Genesis?

It makes no sense.

For that matter, why do so many Christians want to to treat the Bible as though it is some sort of science text book that contains everything there is to know about everything. That hardly seems to be its purpose. Speaking of Genesis, for example, is the central message of the first chapter really about the length of time that God used to create the universe, or about more fundamental truths about God and His relationship to creation and, specifically, to human beings?

And the dialog reproduced in the link to Althouse above is not any better than a round of “I know you are, but what am I” from those wistful bygone days of third grade debate. It seems to me that it is more teaching children how to be smart alecs in class, rather than teaching them to think about complex issues.

The original newspaper story that formed the basis of the Althouse post was from the LAT: Their Own Version of a Big Bang.

Filed under: Religion | Comments (5) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » One of My Favorite Quotes linked with [...] 1, 2006 One of My Favorite Quotes By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:29 pm The prior post, and specifically the stuff I linked to from Althouse, made me think of my favorite moment from Bla [...]
That’s Just Plain Weird
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:47 am

Via the BBC: Voodoo head found in air luggage

US immigration officials have arrested a Haitian woman after baggage screeners found a human head in her luggage at a Florida airport.

Myrlene Severe, 30, has been charged with failing to declare the head on a customs form and transporting “hazardous material”.

And her name is “Severe”-ya gotta love it.

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Voodoo head can’t ward off US Customs » OddJack, the Gambling Guide - Casino, Poker, Sports Betting, Horse Racing linked with [...] and blood of their messiah, which they intend to eat. [American Samizdat] That’s just plain weird. And by the way, the culprit’s surname is “Sever [...]
Thursday, February 9, 2006
Chirac Calls on French Press to Surrender
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:12 am

Via the BBC: Chirac warns media over cartoons

As another French publication printed the cartoons, Mr Chirac said any subject matter that could hurt other people’s convictions should be avoided.

While I will concede that there are times when the offensive nature of an item might preclude publication (indeed, newspapers makes such decisions all the time), the idea of a standard that we should avoid “hurt[ing] other people’s convictions” is pretty ridiculous. Such a standard would pretty effectively eviscerate freedom of the press and speech.

And to be fair to Chirac, the US State Department’s response to the situation was rather anemic as well.

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Cartoon Coordination
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:40 am

Via the NYT: At Mecca Meeting, Cartoon Outrage Crystallized

“It was no big deal until the Islamic conference when the O.I.C. took a stance against it,” said Muhammad el-Sayed Said, deputy director of the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

Sari Hanafi, an associate professor at the American University in Beirut, said that for Arab governments resentful of the Western push for democracy, the protests presented an opportunity to undercut the appeal of the West to Arab citizens. The freedom pushed by the West, they seemed to say, brought with it disrespect for Islam.

He said the demonstrations “started as a visceral reaction — of course they were offended — and then you had regimes taking advantage saying, ‘Look, this is the democracy they’re talking about.’ “

Smart politics, yet sad politics as well: don’t pay attention to the fact that you are oppressed, because with freedom comes the possibility of blasphemous cartoons!!

More on the smart side of the coin:

The protests also allowed governments to outflank a growing challenge from Islamic opposition movements by defending Islam.

The entire piece is interesting and worth a read.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2006
And the Cartoon Insanity Continues…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:59 pm

Via Reuters: Three more die in cartoon protests

The latest deaths in the town of Qalat, in southern Zabul province, brought the total number of Afghans killed in protests this week to 10. Twenty more were injured in Wednesday’s clash.

One wonders if former Taliban types are behind the agitation in Afghanistan…

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Tuesday, February 7, 2006
More Church Fires in Alabama
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:52 pm

Via the AFP: Four more Alabama churches burned.

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Cartoon Insanity Escalates
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:37 am

Via NYT/the AP: Norwegians Fire on Afghan Protesters

NATO peacekeepers exchanged fire with protesters who attacked their base Tuesday in the second straight day of violent demonstrations in Afghanistan over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Afghan officials said. One demonstrator was killed and dozens wounded.

In neighboring Pakistan, 5,000 people chanting ‘’Hang the man who insulted the prophet'’ burned effigies of one cartoonist and Denmark’s prime minister. And a prominent Iranian newspaper said it was going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust in reaction to European newspapers publishing the prophet drawings.

Reuters reports that Afghan troops have killed four protesters.

And Iran’s Ayatollah demonstrated an inability to deal with basic cause and effect, given that the cartoons were published before the Hamas win in Palestine:

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the West’s publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons was an Israeli conspiracy motivated by anger over the victory of the militant Hamas group in the Palestinian elections last month. ‘’The West condemns any denial of the Jewish holocaust, but it permits the insult of Islamic sanctities,'’ Khamenei said.

And, of course, a cartoon is worse than Holocaust denial, it would seem. Of course, I will confess, I don’t recall global riots over Ahmadinejad’s statements that the Holocaust was a myth.

Meanwhile, in the cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face category we have the Checen government rejected Danish relief aid because of the cartoons:

The Chechen government announced Tuesday that it would suspend a Danish relief group’s operations in the republic following the publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting Mohammed, whom Muslims consider a prophet.

In a letter of notification to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Chechen officials said the suspension of the Danish Council for Refugees was intended to avoid further escalation of tensions in the predominantly Muslim republic after the cartoons, depicting Mohammed unfavorably, were published by a newspaper in Denmark and reprinted by periodicals in other Western countries.

The publication of the drawings in Denmark - a “leading European nation that keeps declaring its interfaith tolerance” - “may lead to irreversible consequences for the complicated socio-political situation in the Chechen Republic,” the letter said.


On Monday, Chechnya’s acting prime minister said all Danish non-governmental organizations should be barred from the republic over the Mohammed cartoons.

It would seem that poor, war-ravaged persons would rather get upset over cartoons than receive aid. Sad and amazing.

The entire situation is certainly rather damaging to the notion that global Islam represents a “religion of peace.”

Further, as I noted yesterday, these events underscore the highly underdeveloped nature of significant portions of these various societies, were the populations lack adequate education and have exceptionally non-modern views of the world (with all the commensurate lack of tolerance and understanding of others that goes along with modern views of the world).

Filed under: Global Politics, Religion | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Mark in Mexico linked with 1 Faked Muhammed cartoon identified
Sunday, February 5, 2006
Cartoon Protests Spread to Lebanon
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:15 am

Via the NYT: Protesters Set Fire to Danish Embassy in Beirut

Muslims protesting caricatures of Islam’s prophet set fire Sunday to a building housing the Danish Embassy in Lebanon as security forces fired tear gas in an attempt to stop the protesters.

Thousands of protesters took part in the protest but only a small group of Islamic extremists tried to break the security barrier, prompting troops to fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse them, said the official.

Troops also fired bullets into the air and over the protesters’ heads. Demonstrators attacked policemen with stones and set fire to several fire engines, witnesses said. Black smoke was seen billowing from the area. They also burned Danish flags.

Of the many things that are striking about this entire situation is that the divisions we are seeing are not as much a straightforward Islam v. the West situation, but rather on that is showing us divisions within the Islamic world itself. For one thing, if this was a monolithic response, we wouldn’t see Lebanese soldiers willing to subdue the protesters.

And then there is this statement from the Lebanese PM:

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fuad Saniora also urged calm.

‘’Those who are committing these acts have nothing to do with Islam or with Lebanon,'’ said Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. ‘’This is absolutely not the way we express our opinions.'’

The statement from al Sistani in Iraq that I noted on Friday can be added as well.

Not that there haven’t been state-level responses (e.g., Iran).

Certainly this rage at what is perceived as blasphemy is at least in part the direct result of the lack of education in much of the Muslim world and the continuation, something deliberately by some regimes, of wholly traditional ways of life by the citizenry.

It has been said that the the Muslim world needs its own Enlightenment, and these events underscore that fact quite clearly.

And on the US front, I would note that calls for tolerance in the face of the offensive within our own society are often mocked, but what we are seeing over these cartoons is what a society looks like when tolerance isn’t a key value.

Filed under: Global Politics, Religion | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
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